What Does Biden’s Executive Order About Hearing Aids Mean?

by | Sep 18, 2021 | Hearing Aids, Industry News, Patient Resources, Technology

In Biden’s recent executive order, he shared that “hearing aids are so expensive that only 14% of approximately 48 million Americans with hearing loss use them.” As a result, he will “Direct HHS to consider issuing proposed rules within 120 days for allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter.”


But What Does This Mean?

Over-the-counter hearing aids are very different than traditional hearing aids. They do not require you to see a health professional, they’re often self-fitting, and they offer a generic solution.

In fact, they could be compared to reading “cheater” glasses versus fully prescribed eyeglasses.

When they do become available in grocery stores and over the counter in what is estimated to be before November 6th, 2021, OTC hearing aids will allow you to buy a low-cost device in the hundreds of dollars rather than the thousands of dollars that is typically required when working with a hearing health professional to achieve better hearing.


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Our Thoughts On OTC Devices

  • The only way to understand your hearing needs is to get a hearing test from a qualified audiologist. OTC regulations completely disregard this extremely important and necessary first step.
  • Self-administering a hearing test then attempting to program your own device can’t possibly be a) a good idea and b) be successful.
  • The OTC hearing aids are only meant for those with mild-to-moderate hearing losses. If you have a moderate hearing loss at any frequency, then over-the-counter hearing aids are not the correct solution.
  • Attempting to self-diagnose is risky business.  There are many scenarios where self-diagnosis has resulted in significant long-term damage being caused.  We often see people who think they have a hearing problem and seek hearing aids, but it turns out to just be wax or fluid.  These are conditions that can be treated and DO NOT require a hearing aid.   Conversely, patients diagnosed with an asymmetry need medical intervention and clearance from a physician because of possible serious etiology. Self-diagnosis is NEVER a good idea.
  • Hearing aids alone do not cost several thousand dollars. They make up just part of the cost when working with a hearing professional. The investment in your hearing care with an audiologist includes the initial consultation, hearing aid fitting, follow-up appointments, programming, cleaning, and supplies — these are just to mention a few things. It isn’t about the device one puts in their ear.  Whether is costs hundreds or thousands won’t matter if it is not programmed correctly.   Better hearing requires much more than just great hearing technology; it requires an experienced audiologist working with the patient to establish a personalized hearing treatment plan.
  • Hearing aids, as well as the support of a hearing healthcare professional, are available at multiple price points and can vary from $1300 to $7000 depending on your unique needs, circumstances, and lifestyle.
  • Over-the-counter hearing aids are not the right option for many people – they’re only right for a very mild hearing loss in very selective environments. Many people who pursue this option may find temporary relief in certain situations. However, experience has taught me that the majority of these people will wish that they had invested in a more successful, long-term solution.

Overall, in my opinion, the day that a hearing professional is not needed to help treat a long-term hearing loss will be the day that Google can professionally diagnose and treat a medical challenge. Therefore, hearing aid professionals really are critical to the success of the outcome.

As always, we are here for you; if you have questions and want to speak to an audiologist, simply click here, and our friendly team will reach out shortly.  Thanks for reading!


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Marcie Jacobs, M.A., F-AAA

Marcie Jacobs has extensive experience in the field of Audiology. She became an audiologist over 25 years ago and has practiced in Southern Maryland and Prince Georges County. Jacobs Audiology was founded in 2011 with the philosophy of providing superior hearing health care for their patients. Her unique combination of empathy and energy result in excellent patient care. Marcie Jacobs obtained her Master of Science degree in Audiology from the University of Maryland in 1991.

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